St. Michael Catholic Church

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Love in the Face of Suffering

Note: This is a preview of Jim Thorp's bulletin column, which will appear in the June 13-14 issue of the St. Michael Catholic Church bulletin. Please help us spread the word about these important events!

This weekend the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the great feast celebrating the True Presence—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

We are what we eat, as the old saying goes. The sacrament of Holy Communion is meant to fill us with God’s grace, mercy and love and fuel us to carry out His saving mission in this broken world.

Why, then, is it so hard?

So much has gone wrong in the world these past few months. The coronavirus outbreak has stolen lives and livelihoods, plans and freedoms. Political and racial divisions appear to be deepening and solidifying in the run-up to our presidential election, and violence and darkness seem to be spreading.

We are called to be light to the world. Why, when it is most needed, is it most difficult?

We are imperfect people in a broken world—that’s part of it. We have our own concerns, our own families to care for, our own needs and limitations—that’s another part. But we also just get tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We can only do so much before we say, “Enough!” and remove ourselves from the situations causing us stress and strain.

Most of the original disciples did the same. Even Peter—the Rock—ran and hid in Jesus’ hour of need.

The Church is the Body of Christ in the world today, and we are “many parts” of that Body. How can we learn to stand as Christ did, bloodied, battered and exhausted, still loving, forgiving and praying for those who hurt us?

In the coming weeks and months, our parish will be hosting series of events on Restorative Justice, Healing and Forgiveness in collaboration with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The first two events have already been scheduled:

  • Saturday and Sunday, June 27-28: Restorative Justice and Healing Circles. Fr. Dan Griffith will be preaching at 5 PM Mass on Saturday and 8:30 and 10:30 AM Masses on Sunday on the topic of restorative justice, followed by an opportunity to experience healing circles firsthand after the 10:30 AM Mass.
  • Wednesday, July 8: The Imprint of Trauma. Laura Harder, a compassion fatigue therapist, will speak at 6:30 PM on abuse from the survivor’s perspective. Attendees will gain a basic understanding of how trauma effect psychology and perception and what makes it difficult for survivors to move past it.

These should events speak to survivors of abuse or other trauma—but also to secondary victims (those in the primary victim’s circle of friends and family who are impacted) and even supporters further removed from the trauma but who know, love and support the primary and secondary victims.

The idea of compassion fatigue, in particular, resonates with me. Compassion fatigue is the physical and emotional exhaustion that comes from caring for or about a victim of trauma, resulting in an inability to empathize or be compassionate.

These events respond to the clergy abuse scandal, but I am certain there are other examples of victims struggling for years to deal with traumatic issues or events, and good-hearted people who finally say, “That’s it—I can’t do this anymore.” In fact, I have seen it among friends and family in the aftermath of suicide or the death of a child. People lift up and support those in need in beautiful, selfless ways—for weeks, months, even years—but only to a point.

How do we push past that point and love as God loves? Let’s gather together in the coming weeks and see if we can find out. Whether you have felt the effects of abuse in the church or not, consider joining us. Watch the bulletin, website and our Facebook page in the coming weeks for details.